Banyana lose final 1-0 | SASCOC - SASCOC

Banyana lose final 1-0

Winning the final proved a bridge too far for Banyana Banyana in Harare, Zimbabwe on Saturday as an 84th minute strike by Zimbabwean goal-getter Rufaro Machingura saw the Mighty Warriors crowned as the 2011 COSAFA Women’s Football Championship winners.

The South Africans had the better goal-scoring opportunities throughout the match, but a raid on the goal of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana with six minutes remaining on the clock, resulted in an overhead kick from striker Rudo Neshamba causing havoc in the South African penalty area. With the Banyana Banyana defence unable to clear the ball, Machingura was on hand to slot the ball home.

Zimbabwean coach Rosemary Mugadza, played Emmaculate Msipa ahead of Erina Jeke in the midfield at the start of the match while in defence, Danai Bhobho replaced Eunice Chibanda, who was sent off in the hosts’ semi-final win over Tanzania on Thursday.

Bhobho repaid her coach’s confidence as early as the fifth minute when she cleared a header from Banyana Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini off the Zimbabwean goal-line, while home team goalkeeper Onai Chingawo ÔÇô who was named as the ‘Goalkeeper of the Tournament’ ÔÇô pulled off several full-length diving saves to keep out efforts from striker Noko Matlou.

The visitors who conceded just two goals while scoring 14 en route to the final, were severely tested in defence, with teenage centre back Amanda Sister and the highly experienced Janine van Wyk ÔÇô named ‘Player of the Tournament’ ÔÇô producing well-timed resistance to keep the Zimbabwean strike-force at bay.

Banyana Banyana made two injury-enforced changes from the line up that defeated Malawi 5-1 in the semi-finals on Thursday, with the experienced midfielder Mamello Makhabane having recovered from a groin strain to replace Nomathemba Ntsibande.

Due to the fact that Nothando Vilakazi was nursing a leg injury, Gabisile ‘China’ Hlumbane, moved to the defensive left-back position, and 17-year-old Robyn Moodaly, started on the right side of midfield.

ÔÇ£The Zimbabwean women’s football team have improved in leaps and bounds since we last played them in December last year, and they must receive credit for their COSAFA Championship crown,ÔÇØ said Banyana Banyana caretaker coach Joseph Mkhonza afterwards.

ÔÇ£We had good scoring chances but we failed to capitalise and paid the price. We have a lot of homework to do before we face Ethiopia in the home-and-away Olympic qualifying matches in August and September.ÔÇØ

Nomsa Mahlangu, SAFA Chairperson said: “Women’s football applauded Banyana Banyana for the courage they showed away from home.

ÔÇ£The girls played very well, but unfortunately for us, luck was not on our side. But this was good preparation for the upcoming All-Africa Games to be held in Mozambique in September. Now we can go back to the drawing board and prepare better. The girls were exposed to tough competition which was good for them and we will use this experience going forward,ÔÇØ said Mahlangu.

ÔÇ£We are grateful to COSAFA for staging such a successful tournament and hopefully this will continue every two years,ÔÇØ she added.

Bronze medallists Tanzania took the tournament’s ‘Fairplay’ award with Zimbabwean striker Machingura’s eight goals in the tournament giving her the top goal-scorer of the tournament award.